Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Good Mom

I have a confession to make. It’s a secret I’ve harbored for a little over a year now and would finally like it to be out in the open. Because we’re sharing here. Wait, we are sharing, right? We’re definitely sharing. Because the interwebs is place we come to share our hopes, fears and innermost secrets. With friends. And strangers. And creepy people.

I’ve realized this secret little by little over the last year but have largely kept it to myself (with the exception of others who may have already guessed). But I feel that it’s time to open myself up, break down the façade and embrace the truth. So, here’s the truth:

I am not a good mom.

Now before you go all obligatory complimentary on me (OMGosh! Na-huh! You are SUCH an awesome mom! If I were a one year-old I would TOTALLY want you as my mom!) just hear me out. What I mean is that I am not a good stereotypical mom. Of course I love my child and try my best to provide what is best for him, I often find myself falling short (waaaay short) of the “apron-wearing, educational craft-creating, lovingly reproving, completely losing herself in her children and finding her ultimate joy in being a mother” standard of a mom. The Good Mom. Whether that type of mom exists or not (and I posit that they do because I swear I know a couple) the fact is that is the picture of motherhood we subconsciously set as a model. And this is where my secret lies: I am not good at being a Good Mom.

Actually, no. Not even then.

I know it’s only been a little over a year into this motherhood thing but I have yet to feel enveloped in a sense of complete purpose. I love my son, I want him to grow up to be stalwart; a compassionate and productive member of society with integrity, resourcefulness and confidence. But I’m having a hard time figuring out how to sacrifice myself (like a Good Mom) without losing myself. I feel like I don’t fit very many of the mommy (specifically Mormon mommy) stereotypes that I’m not quite sure where I fit in. I don’t sew, I don’t play any instrument, I’m terrible at crafts of any sort, and you couldn’t pay me enough to scrapbook. I haven’t made Landon any flashcards, learning puppets or ISpy beanbags. We don’t go to any singing classes, gymnastics classes or mommy and me classes. I buy his babyfood (non-organic). I let him eat stuff off the floor (15 minute rule) and his “blankie” is not a handmade plush quilt but rather a stained burp cloth.

My interests and talents seem to run contrary to the Good Mom role. I wish I had more compatible talents, because I really admire people who do. But I would rather read about the fall of the Soviet Union than a book on how to teach your kid to do linear equations by the time he’s 3. I let Landon listen to Taking Back Sunday and Jay-Z (clean songs, at least) in the car because I can’t handle The Wiggles Sing Along. I can only keep this up for so long because soon he will become more aware of his surroundings. I’m sure his pre-school teacher would not be impressed by a little kid singing “If you feelin like a pimp son, go and brush your shoulders off. Ladies is pimps too, go and brush your shoulders off”. That would be an interesting parent-teacher conference.

So how do I reconcile sacrificing myself to be a Good Mom without letting my brain seep out of my ears? How do I find that inner Good Mom and put a twist on her to make her uniquely me? How do I raise a kid who likes good music but still knows how to pop and lock?

So many questions. A lifetime to figure it out.


  1. Just because both of our moms were super-moms: sewing, cooking, reading, singing, cleaning and tidying, apron-wearing, children-serving machines, doesn't mean our generation has to be. I am not a Good Mom either, don't worry. You're not alone. We all have our own gifts and talents for a reason. Landon was sent to you because you have specific talents and gifts that he will benefit from that no one else could give him. Being a mom doesn't mean you have to make it your complete livelihood. You can do other stuff and feel good about it!!! So go, Deb, go away! Read some Fall of the Soviet Union books! You're the perfect Mommy for Landon (a.k.a. Chi Chi Puff Puff). He absolutely adores you, and that's all that matters.

  2. Oh you are not alone in this one. I just threw on the tv so my kids would be quiet when I had vowed today would be a "no tv" day. I took my kids to the splash park today... why? Because it's the only time I get to spend with my friends! We chat while they play, perfect combo! We used to go to the library... why? Because my friends and I met up there, they would get tons of books afterwards to read to their kids. I only went because we went out to lunch afterwards. Library = lunch. I go because I get something out of it.

    SO, you may be surprised at why everyone does what they do... it may be becuase they have hidden selfish reasons, like me... or maybe like you said, they're just good Moms... and they go to the library to enrich their children. I like to think they're selfish just like me :)

  3. Think about it almost like the first couple of years of marriage--it's tough because neither one of you has been married before and you don't know what you're doing. You each see ideas of what a good wife and a good husband are... so you try it. Then you realize that you just can't go on like that. You get real, and gradually figure out what feels right one thing at a time. There's all kinds of couples: couples who are best friends and hang out with just each other all the time, and couples work better when they hang out with mutual friends all the time. Neither one is bad if it works for both people. The key is communicating, listening, and adjusting. Over and over again, as life changes.

    So now you have a baby who isn't so good at communicating yet and a mom. Just meet his needs and keep him safe while still listening to your own instincts: be authentic and real to yourselves. How you get there is knowing there are different kinds of moms who are equally good: sewing/crafting/etc. moms, non-sewing/crafting/etc. moms. Being real and finding out what works for your family... that's all that matters.

  4. its funny, the things we consider stereotypical. i suppose some may consider the mom who sews and makes cupcakes to be the stereotype. i like to do those things, but i don't consider those things Good Mom things. those are the things that make mom fat and give kids sugar highs. those are the things that make mom ignore kids so she can finish what she's working on, and probably isn't saving her a dime or worth her precious time. i think a Good Mom is one who is well-versed in history so she can help her kids with their future homework and have an interesting conversation with her husband. i endeavor to be more like that. none of us should feel the need to break the mold of the stereotypical mom. we should just embrace it however we will, and pray to stay one step ahead of the game. thats my motto, hairbows and all. haha.

    by the way, hi! found your blog. did you have a good trip last week?

  5. I really appreciate everyone's comments - it helps to know that these struggles are definitely not new or isolated. Thanks for everyone's perspective!

    Ash- You've had to hear this from me for the last couple of weeks, thanks for being my confidant even while I'm Debbie Downer. PS- How's James doing? Feeling better?

    Kris- I'm so glad to hear you talk about doing activities because you want to and if the kids have fun it's a bonus. I need to remember that whatever thoughts I have in my head are most likely shared by almost everyone else.

    Whitney- Not to pressure you or anything, but when the heck are you guys going to have kids? You will be an AWESOME mom! I like the concept of being true to myself regardless of my identity as a "mom". It will give Landon a chance to value a lot of different traits.

    Rach- So glad you found me!! It's funny that you talk about being well versed in history because that's exactly how my mom was growing up. I always thought she was one of the smartest people I knew. (Although she also sewed and was often found in an apron). Our beach trip was great - Landon loved the sand and ocean (including the taste of both).

    I still struggle with those feelings of guilt associated with feeling like I put myself first in anything (for instance, I've started to go to the gym at the Y and put Landon in day care there. He HATES it and has been kicked out everyday because he's so miserable. Yet I continue to go back and force him into the daycare because I want to go to the gym gosh dangit! I feel like I'm scarring him everyday but I'm unwilling to sacrifice for his comfort. Then I run in guilt every moment waiting for the worker to come out a get me). I guess I'm trying to figure out when it's okay to not put your kid first.

    Wow, even my own comments can't be short!

  6. are people from washington dc generally smarter than the rest of the country? maybe its cuz you grew up around the political hubub and couldn't help but be forced into thinking and caring. anyway, embrace your wicked smarts and you'll figure the rest of this stuff out!

    hopefully one of these days i'll run into you at the Y. just don't laugh at what a wimp i am on the treadmill. :)

    do you mind if i add you to my "blogroll?" i enjoy reading your blog!

  7. Rach - Definitely not smarter, just more pessimistic!

    I would love to be added to the blog roll! I put yours on my google reader (love Weston's surfboard!).

  8. Ok so I know when you said you know a couple of super moms you were talking about me!! First of all Wyatt only likes Rap/Pop music his fav song is Rude Boy by Rihanna! Everyday after his nap he stays in his crib and I put on Mickey Mouse so I can have extra no screaming at me time. Oh I have also taught Wyatt how to bootie dance..it doesn't get worse then that...At least Wyatt and Landon can pop and lock together...Yup you are right you aren't a good mom shame on you Debbie!!;)

  9. Deb



    drop it like it's hot.

    you'll feel an even bigger sense of purpose when you have two kids so that they can play together and leave you to blog...oops, sorry. i'm just projecting.

    i heart your blog.

  10. What does it say about me that I own the book pictured on this blog post? Or the fact that my mother-in-law gave it to me? Hmmmm....Or the fact that my kids are forced to listen to NPR instead of current music. Your kids will be popular, mine mega nerds. :)

    We all have to be true to ourselves and I love that you're keeping it real. I think that's one of the real tragedies of mothering is that we're not honest enough when it's hard to reach out for companionship, help, conversation, whatever, only to find out that there are other women struggling with the exact same issues that we could have supported and found solace in.

  11. Wow. You have really smart and insightful friends. I love what they wrote, especially Ashley and Whitney.

    P.S. you are a great mom.